HTC's ThunderBolt along with Motorola's Atrix 4G and Droid Bionic might be taking the overwhelming majority of the attention here at CES over the past few days, but remember that both companies have introduced some other models that are expected to be serious midrange breadwinners for their respective carriers. One of the most obvious head-to-head matches would be the HTC EVO Shift 4G taking on the Motorola Cliq 2, both launching this month on Sprint and T-Mobile, respectively.
Physically, both phones are a little on the chubby side, but they rest really nicely in the hand, probably thanks largely to the smaller displays -- if they were 4 inches or larger, we think the girth would be far more noticeable. Neither of these devices fall into the realm of "beautiful," but we'd say it shakes out this way: the Cliq 2 looks better closed, but the weird keyboard's ugly enough so that the EVO Shift takes the crown when they're open. Seriously, the Cliq 2's QWERTY borders on the atrocious -- we can't imagine what prompted Moto and T-Mobile to green-light this freaky organic design that seems at odds with the rest of the phone. What's more, it's a membrane type -- the keys aren't individually installed -- which gives it a cheap feel with far too much resistance for comfort, especially if you're a heavy user. The displays are roughly equivalent, and it's the same situation as the chassis: they're good, not great. Both screens start to wash out if you go too far outside a straight-on viewing angle and there's a good deal of gap between the glass and the display itself.
But let's get down to brass tacks -- you probably want to know about speed, right? With WiMAX enabled, the Shift topped out around 3Mbps down and 1Mbps up here at the CES grounds (in other words, all these figures could be skewed a bit by the extraordinary user load going on right now). The Cliq 2, meanwhile -- which is billed as a 4G device by T-Mobile thanks to HSPA+ support -- maxed at 2.6Mbps down and 1.4Mbps up; both had ping times in the low 100ms range. Your mileage may vary, but the fact is both of these suckers are pretty much in the same category... hence T-Mobile's 4G branding, we suppose. Check out the gallery (and stay tuned for full reviews)!